Small Estate Affidavit Now Available to Estates Worth $100,000 or Less

Victoria L. Howard

Author: Victoria L. Howard

POST DATE: 1.30.23
Ccha  Estate Planning

If you have recently lost a loved one, it is important to determine if probate administration will be necessary to help transfer that loved one's assets. A recent change to Indiana law has made this process simpler for estates that are less than $100,000. If your loved one left property behind, you might be able to transfer that property by way of a small estate affidavit. A small estate affidavit is a simplified procedure that can help facilitate the transfer of assets in some situations without involving the probate court. Often, such procedure is simplified and saves the estate on costs of administration.

Which Types of Assets Go Through Probate?

Probate assets are generally those owned solely by an individual at the time of death and with no beneficiary designation. Individually owned bank accounts without a joint owner or payable on death beneficiary would generally go through probate. The same applies to investments, real property, personal belongings, and valuables held solely in the decedent’s name and with no beneficiary. Generally, if a decedent has enough probate assets, a probate court will be needed to institute a probate administration in order to facilitate the transfer of those assets.

However, Indiana also has a procedure called “Dispensing with Administration” that allows the formal probate administration process to be avoided in some situations. I.C. 29-1-8-1 provides for the use of a small estate affidavit for estates less than $100,000 for individuals who die after June 30, 2022, and $50,000 for individuals who died after June 30, 2006 and before July 1, 2022. This means that for estates with total probate assets that fall within these parameters, a probate court’s authority may not be needed to transfer assets.

Small estate affidavit

Some Assets Don’t Go Through Probate

Other assets are considered non-probate assets and do not need a probate administration or small estate affidavit to be transferred after the death of a loved one. Examples of non-probate assets include:

  • Real estate held by two individuals as joint tenants with rights of survivorship,
  • Jointly held bank accounts,
  • Life insurance policies with a named beneficiary,
  • Retirement benefits with a named beneficiary,
  • Transfer on death accounts, and
  • Property held in the name of a trust.

Taking time to identify the decedent’s assets is central to determining how and if an estate needs to be administered. Our experienced estate planning attorneys at Church Church Hittle and Antrim (CCHA Law) can help you with this process.

What Is a Small Estate Affidavit?

A small estate affidavit in Indiana provides a simplified method of handling some estates. It can eliminate the need for probate administration in many instances. Under this process, an heir or administrator can use an Indiana small estate affidavit to gather and distribute the assets of a person who left behind probate assets worth $100,000 or less. Generally, the small estate procedure in Indiana is as follows:

  1. Wait 45 days after the death of the decedent;
  2. Prepare a small estate affidavit;
  3. Notify every person who is entitled to receive part of the property to be distributed;
  4. Get the small estate affidavit notarized in front of a notary public; and
  5. Collect and distribute the assets pursuant to the affidavit.

The affiant does not file the small estate affidavit in court but provides the form to the entity holding the assets. The affiant is responsible for paying anyone with rights to the property. Using this procedure likely expedites the transfer of assets and saves the estate on costs of administration. Additionally, this new change in law has made the small estate affidavit available to many more estates.

The legal team at CCHA Law can advise you further regarding the contents of the small estate affidavit. We can also answer any questions about the probate administration process.

Contact CCHA Law with Your Estate Planning Questions

CCHA Law is a full-service law firm that has been serving legal clients for over 100 years. As one of the most established firms in Indiana, we’ll partner with you as you explore estate planning options for yourself or navigate through the loss of a loved one. We can advise the best mechanism for administering a loved one’s estate, whether that be through probate administration or with a small estate affidavit.

It is critical to speak with a skilled estate planning attorney if you are the administrator of an estate. Our attorneys are familiar with laws that affect your role and can advise you on any necessary steps. If you have questions about Indiana’s small estate affidavit process or need help with any aspect of estate planning or probate, call us or contact us online today to schedule a consultation.